Algerian Journalist Lila Haddad Slams Bouteflikas Regime in a New Video

Rabat – Algerian journalist Lila Haddad has recorded a new video to slam Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and his brother, and advisor Said Bouteflika.In a five-minute video, Haddad acidly criticized the regime.“Mr. Bouteflika, good morning. I am Leila Haddad and I am speaking to you on my own behalf. Life taught me that daring is the shortest way to reach the truth, and the message I sent you last week was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”She continued: “I had asked your brother Said to show compassion and to release you. A feeling tells me that you wish to withdraw and that you are waiting for a favorable moment.” Slamming the Algerian regime, Haddad said that “reality is an intense darkness for Algerian people because of a group of criminals who became decision-makers after your illness,” referring to Bouteflika’s debilitating stroke in 2013.In a similar video recorded  at the European Parliament’s studio in Brussels earlier this month, Haddad described Bouteflika as a “heap of flesh.”The former correspondent for the Algerian television channel ENTV also accused Bouteflika’s brother of “thinking that he is the only one who is entitled to dispose of him.”“The dignity of an entire people is scorned (…) Algerians have become the laughing stock of the world. Their dignity has succumbed to their own humanity to form a mountain of shame,” she had said.The Algerian embassy in Brussels denounced the statements, saying that the journalist was dismissed from Algerian television channel ENTV because of her “incivism” (lack of patriotism) and “bipolar behavior.”The embassy also labeled Haddad as a “pseudo journalist” who “attacked  the honor and dignity of the institutions of the Algerian Republic.” read more

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Rogers sells flagship magazines Macleans Chatelaine in deal with St Joseph

TORONTO — Rogers Media has reached a deal to sell its seven consumer print and digital publications, including Maclean’s and Chatelaine, to St. Joseph Communications.They say all current employees of Rogers Media Publishing will be offered jobs through the deal, which is expected to close next month.However, financial terms of the agreement were not immediately disclosed.The transaction comes after months of unconfirmed reports that Rogers Media, an arm of Rogers Communications Inc., had been negotiating to sell its remaining consumer publications.The deal today includes both the French and English editions of Chatelaine, Today’s Parent and Hello! Canada, as well as the digital publications Flare and Canadian Business, which no longer have print editions.They will join a number of other publications at St. Joseph Communications which already produces Toronto Life, Weddingbells, Mariage Quebec and other titles. Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B)The Canadian Press read more

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Polisario Continues Kidnapping Crackdowns on Sahrawi Activists

Rabat –  The Polisario Front arrested Sahrawi journalist and activist Moulay Aba Buzid during a solidarity demonstration on Monday, June 17. The demonstration took place  next to the high commission of refugees in Rabouni near Tindouf, Algeria.Pro-Polisario news outlet FuturoSahara reported that several activists have condemned the “kidnapping” of their colleague who  was “taken to an unknown destination by some members of the ‘national gendarmerie” without an arrest order from the ‘republic’s’ prosecutor.”Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, a former Polisario member, confirmed the arrest on his Facebook page. Mustafa Salma said “Keep the journalist hidden if you can. I learned of the arrest of the journalist in Sahrawi refugee camps today.I did not condemn this back then, and I don’t need to condemn it.Read Also: El Salvador Withdraws its Recognition of Polisario’s so-called SADR2019/06/15 Every Moment Buzid spends in detention does not only condemn Polisario, but also the high commission for refugees as he was arrested  immediately after he left their office,” Mustafa Salma.The activist added that Buzid, along with other activists, “went to the commission to hand in a letter, calling for the protection of Sahrawis in Morocco. However, it would have been more appropriate for them to demand their own protection.” Mustafa Salma, who was police officer in the Tindouf camps, said that the High Commission is “required to reveal the fate” of the journalist.“The Polisario Front is required to keep [the journalist) hidden, if it can. A week ago they were widely sharing a report from the  Reporters Without Borders on the arrest of Sahrawi journalists and the crackdown on their activities in Morocco’s southern regions. I challenge [Polisario] them to keep journalist Buzid hidden now,” concluded Mustafa Salma.This is not the first time that Polisario faces accusations of kidnapping and violent arrest of Sahrawi activists in the Tindouf camps.Throughout this year, Polisario has been facing pressure from Sahrawis who have repeatedly condemned the mysterious disappearance of Ahmed El Khalil, a  Polisario member who went missing more than 10 years ago under unknown circumstances.The front claimed that El Khalil is alive after  pressure from his family and activists who have continually protested his disappearance.In February, Sahrawis took to the desert in Rabouni, where the Secretariat of the Polisario Front is located, to condemn the disappearance. read more

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Lisbon Court Sentences Moroccan Man For Recruiting for ISIS

Rabat – On July 9, the Court of Lisbon sentenced Moroccan national Abdessalam Tazi to 12 years in prison for his involvement with ISIS.The judge sentenced Tazi after the Portuguese court found the defendant guilty of recruiting young Moroccans to fight for ISIS. Most of the young men recruited by Tazi were of Moroccan nationality.The 65-year-old Moroccan national was convicted on seven charges. Besides recruiting fighters for ISIS, he was found guilty of providing financial support to the terrorist group via forged credit cards. However, the public prosecution office failed to find evidence proving Tazi’s direct affiliation with the leaders of ISIS. During the hearing, the prosecutor recognized that Tazi was a highly intelligent person who had been able to bring Moroccan citizens to Portugal with the intention of sending them to Syria.Tazi’s lawyer, Lopez Guerrero, told reporters that he was surprised to hear the verdict, stating that he was considering an appeal. “He was acquitted of belonging to an international terrorist organization, but he was convicted of recruiting people to an organization he does not belong to,” he added. read more

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Venezuela confirms major contraction in rare data release

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s government has made a rare acknowledgement of the severity of the country’s economic crisis by publishing the first economic data in nearly four years showing a severe contraction and soaring hyperinflation.The central bank said Tuesday that the oil-rich economy contracted 22.5% in the third quarter of 2018 from a year earlier. It said inflation soared to 130,060%.Opposition economists, and the International Monetary Fund, have put inflation figures even higher.Some 3 million Venezuelans have fled the country in recent years as the economy has crashed amid a bitter fight over power between socialist leader Nicolás Maduro and his opponents.Maduro’s government has not commented on the data, which was published quietly Tuesday on the central bank’s website.The Associated Press read more

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Two UN agencies issue new guidelines to boost HIV testing and counselling

30 May 2007Aiming to boost access to much-needed HIV treatment, care and prevention services, two United Nations agencies today jointly issued new guidance on testing for and counselling about the virus. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint UN Programme Against HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) called for increased health care provider-initiated testing and counselling.The prevailing model now is voluntary testing and counselling, where individuals actively seek diagnosis. But experts say this system is impeded by the fear of stigma and discrimination, limited accessibility to services and the perception of many – even in areas with high rates of HIV infection – that they are not at risk.Roughly 80 per cent of people living with HIV in low and middle-income countries are unaware that they have been infected with the disease. In sub-Saharan Africa, recent surveys demonstrate that only 12 per cent of men and 10 per cent of women have been tested for HIV and have received their results.Increasing access to testing and counselling is crucial in encouraging earlier diagnosis of HIV infection, which could maximize the potential benefits of treatment and care and also arm those with HIV with information and tools to prevent transmission of the virus.“If we are going to get ahead of this epidemic, rapidly scaled up HIV treatment and prevention efforts are critical – and increased uptake of HIV testing will be fundamental to making this a reality,” said Paul De Lay, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at UNAIDS.The WHO/UNAIDS guidance recommends that in generalized HIV epidemics, HIV testing and counselling should be recommended to all patients in all health facilities, while in concentrated and low-level epidemics, countries should recommend testing to all patients seeking treatment in certain areas, such as antenatal care and tuberculosis.Other key recommendations of the two agencies include ensuring that all HIV testing is voluntary, confidential and undertaken with the patient’s consent; recognizing that patients have the right to decline tests; and linking testing to prevention, treatment, care and support.“We hope that the new guidance will provide an impetus to countries to greatly increase availability of HIV testing services in health care settings, through realistic approaches that both improve access to services and, at the same time, protect the rights of individuals,” said WHO HIV/AIDS Director Kevin De Cook.WHO and UNAIDS stressed that HIV testing and counselling initiated by health care providers is not, and should not be construed as, an endorsement of coercive or mandatory HIV testing. read more

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UN refugee agency steps up activities along ColombianVenezuelan border

29 June 2007To meet the needs of a growing number of Colombian refugees arriving in Venezuela after fleeing violence and threats, United Nations refugee agency is stepping up its intervention along the border. The United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) is as of this month extending activities along Venezuela’s side of the border with Colombia, with new projects in the Amazonas region to the south, and the “Sur del Lago” region further to the north. In a press briefing in Geneva today, Ron Redmond, UNHCR spokesman explained that intervention will begin with the training of armed forces and civilian authorities in refugee law and human rights. The aim in both regions will at first be “conflict-prevention, to reduce the risk of tension that large influxes of people can cause,” he added.Testimonies by the civilian population, reported by UNHCR, detail threats, targeted killings, and widespread intimidation that affect especially the rural areas in Colombia, They also voiced general concern that violence would flare before the upcoming elections in October.The humanitarian situation in Colombia is increasingly cause for concern; the rates of forced displacement registered last year in the region of Catatumbo to the north and Arauca further to the south were some of the highest in the whole of Colombia. These regions see also some of the worst indices of targeted killings, landmine accidents and armed fighting, explained Mr. Redmond. In the Arauca region alone, UNHCR found evidence during a fact-finding mission earlier this month that the number of new cases recorded in the national system for registration of displaced people tripled last year: from 1,000 in the first six months to 3,000 in the second half of 2006. This number does not include the displaced people who do not come forward for registration. Figures for the first six months of 2007 are not yet consolidated, but local authorities say the numbers keep rising. In the town of Tame, the authorities dealt with 2,500 new cases of displacement between January and May of this year, compared with 1,250 in the whole of 2006. The situation is similar in the rest of Arauca, where the country’s two guerrilla group, the FARC and the ELN, having been fighting for territory since March of last year.Some 2 million people are on the national registry for displaced people in Colombia with official estimates that another million have been victims of forced displacement but are not registered. UNHCR and the Venezuelan government calculate that some 200,000 Colombians may be in need of international protection in Venezuela. UNHCR has three field offices on the Venezuelan side of the border. read more

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Darfur UNAfrican Union peacekeeping force launches operations in El Fasher

“It is a great day for the United Nations and the African Union, the day of UNAMID’s launch, which was only an idea three months ago but now it is a profound reality,” said Rodolphe Adada, the UN-AU Joint Special Representative for Darfur.“I am pleased to say that with the cooperation of the Government of Sudan, we are one more step closer to embark on our peacekeeping mandate for the people of Darfur,” he declared.But Mr. Adada cautioned that more support is needed, saying UNAMID is “facing a lack of pledges for specialized units in areas such as aviation and land transport that should be arriving in Darfur as part of the heavy support package” to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which has been on the ground in Darfur since 2004. The UN and AU are currently conducting pre-deployment visits to some of the troop contributing countries to inspect the uniformed personnel and their equipment, according to the envoy. “I have all the confidence that the remaining steps towards the final assumption of authority by UNAMID will be concluded before the end of this year so that we can start implementing our mandate in 2008 in full gear,” he said. Conflict in Darfur has killed more than 200,000 people and uprooted another 2.5 million. UN-AU mediated talks are currently underway in Sirte, Libya aimed at achieving a lasting political solution to the fighting, which began in 2003 and involves rebels, Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed. 31 October 2007The United Nations African Union hybrid peacekeeping operation for Darfur (UNAMID) today began operations at its El Fasher Headquarters in what the senior UN official there called a milestone for the strife-torn Sudanese region. read more

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Ted Turner and UN launch winwin sustainable tourism standards

7 October 2008The businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner and United Nations agencies have unveiled the first-ever voluntary sustainable tourism standards in a bid to ensure that tourism helps, not harms, local communities and the environment. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the non-governmental organization (NGO) known as the Rainforest Alliance, and the UN Foundation (UNF), which was set up by Mr. Turner, announced the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) yesterday in Barcelona, Spain.“Sustainability is just like the old business adage – ‘you don’t encroach on the principal, you live off the interest’,” Mr. Turner, who also serves as UNF’s Chairman, told the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).“Unfortunately, up to this point, the travel industry and tourists haven’t had a common framework to let them know if they’re really living up to that maxim,” he said, calling the new criteria “a win-win initiative – good for the environment and good for the world’s tourism industry.”A coalition of over two dozen tourism organizations developed the criteria, in consultation with sustainability experts and the tourism industry. More than 80,000 people, including conservationists, tourism industry leaders, governments and UN agencies, have been invited to comment on the resulting standards.The criteria focus on four key areas: maximizing tourism’s benefits to local communities; curbing negative impacts on cultural heritage; slashing harm to local environments; and sustainability.More than 900 million international tourists took trips last year, and UNWTO forecasts that number to surge to 1.6 billion by 2020.“To minimize the negative impacts of this growth, sustainability should translate from words to facts,” the agency’s Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli said. “The GSTC initiative will undoubtedly constitute a major reference point for the entire tourism sector and an important step in making sustainability an inherent part of tourism development.” read more

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Darfur after ouster of aid groups UN focuses on minimizing immediate risks

13 March 2009The United Nations system is focusing on the immediate risks posed to the 4.7 million people dependent on humanitarian aid in Sudan’s war-racked Darfur region after the ordered expulsion of 13 aid groups, a spokesperson for the Organization said today. At the same time, UN officials continued to press for the reversal of the decision of the Sudanese Government on expelling the non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which came immediately after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Al-Bashir last week for alleged crimes committed in the region.Fighting between Government troops, their allied militias and rebels has led to the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people and displaced some three million more in Darfur since 2003.The results of an ongoing joint UN-Sudanese mission to assess current needs will be made public next week after it competes its work on 18 March, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said that the planned distribution of two months rations to the 1.1 million people who had been served by the expelled by partner NGOs would begin in the coming days, probably Sunday or afterward.The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which is concerned by the impact on the quality and the distribution of water, said it was working with the Government and its UN partners to meet immediate needs and to assure the most urgent needs could be met for up to three months. An urgent priority of the World Health Organization (WHO) is containing the spread of a meningitis outbreak in the Kalma Camp in southern Darfur. Fifty-four cases, four of them fatal, have already been diagnosed.Meningitis is very dangerous, especially in crowded areas, WHO pointed out, warning that if people are not immunized rapidly, the disease would spread.The health agency said its work is made much more difficult because some of the expelled NGOs had been doing surveillance and detection of such outbreaks on a daily and weekly basis. They are also on the frontline of the fight against malnutrition and water-borne and insect-borne diseases, and worked actively on reproductive health issues, WHO said. read more

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UN condemns killing of peacekeepers in Darfur

7 May 2010The United Nations has voiced outrage after two peacekeepers serving with the joint African Union-UN force in Sudan’s war-scarred Darfur region were killed and three others seriously wounded in an ambush earlier today. The two Egyptian soldiers died after their convoy, carrying out a routine patrol, was attacked by about 20 unidentified armed gunmen who opened fire without warning in a remote area of South Darfur state, according to the mission (known as UNAMID).The wounded soldiers have been airlifted to a UNAMID hospital in the state capital of Nyala and are reported to be in a stable condition.The head of UNAMID and the AU-UN Joint Special Representative, Ibrahim Gambari, expressed outrage at what he described as a “cowardly attack” against the peacekeepers, who he noted are in Darfur – which has been beset by conflict and large-scale humanitarian suffering since 2003 – only to help restore peace and stability to the region.“UNAMID remains undaunted and unwavering in its commitment to carrying out its mandate in the service of peace,” Mr. Gambari stressed.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, called on the Sudanese Government to launch an immediate investigation into the incident and to identify, apprehend and bring the perpetrators to justice.Kemal Saïki, a spokesperson for UNAMID, told UN Radio that there is “no indication as to the identities nor the motives of the attackers.” He called on Sudanese authorities to identify, capture and bring to justice the attackers and any sponsors as soon as possible.“There is absolutely no reason why our peacekeepers should have been attacked? This is a criminal act of violence that we are forcefully denouncing.”Security Council members also condemned the attack “in the strongest terms” according to a statement read out on behalf of the 15-member panel by Ambassador Nawaf Salam of Lebanon, which holding the rotating presidency this month.Mr. Salam said the Council extended its condolences to the families of the slain peacekeepers and to the Egyptian Government, and reiterated its full support for the work of the mission.Today’s attack took place about 11:30 a.m. near the village of Katila, which is about 85 kilometres south of the town of Edd al Fursan. The UNAMID convoy that was ambushed was comprised of three vehicles and 20 peacekeepers.Last month four South African police advisers serving with UNAMID were abducted near Nyala by unknown gunmen but were later released unharmed.Today’s deaths take the number of UNAMID personnel killed as a result of hostile actions to 24 since the mission was established at the start of 2008 as a successor to an earlier AU force. An estimated 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million other Darfurians displaced since fighting erupted seven years ago. read more

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Western Asia Ban urges greater efforts to reduce inequality and create jobs

“The recession continues to affect every part of the world. Now more than ever, we must boost decent work, foster social inclusion, and reduce inequalities,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the 26th ministerial session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which got under way in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, yesterday.“We must make a special effort to expand hope and possibilities for young people,” the Secretary-General in the message, which was delivered by Bader Omar Al Dafa, the Executive Director of ESCWA.Mr. Ban said the session was taking place at a time when climate change, the scarcity of water and the effects of the food crisis continue to threaten the region. He said he was encouraged by the fact that discussions in the meeting would focus on youth and promoting opportunities for them.“The UN International Year of Youth begins on 12 August. Through this effort, we hope to recognize the contributions and advance the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society,” the Secretary-General said.He also welcomed discussions on improving human and institutional capacity in the region, saying public sector modernization and administrative reform are central for the attainment of national development goals.“I count on you to provide credible policy options that are tailored to local needs and will lead to more effective government, stronger communities and brighter future for all in the ESCWA region,” Mr. Ban added.Mr. Al Dafa said ESCWA remained committed to tackling development challenges in Western Asia by finding practical solutions that were compatible with the specific demographic, social and economic realities in the region.The Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, also urged delegates to focus on finding effective development strategies that would benefit the youth.The Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Abdulrahman Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, praised the role ESCWA was playing in facilitating constructive interaction among Member States by providing institutional framework for closer cooperation.Headquartered in Beirut, ESCWA is one of the five regional commissions under the administrative direction of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Member States are Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. 20 May 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for concerted efforts to accelerate efforts to reduce social inequalities in Western Asia through the boosting of decent job opportunities especially for the region’s youth. read more

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Icelandic designer takes top prize in UN antipoverty ad contest

A graphic designer from Iceland is the winner of a United Nations advertising contest to boost awareness in Europe of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight globally agreed anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, it was announced today.Stefán Einarsson, 44, will be bestowed the top award for the UN Ads Against Poverty Competition by Queen Sofia of Spain in Madrid on 10 September and he will receive €5,000.“I am, of course, delighted that I have won and I sincerely hope that this ad will remind our leaders that they have to keep their promises and achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” he said.The competition, which kicked off in May, invited all citizens of 48 European countries to submit one-page print entries in the form of drawings, designs, cartoons, photographs or slogans. More than 2,000 entries from 34 countries were submitted for consideration.Mr. Einarsson’s winning entry was selected by popular vote as well as by a jury of prominent European advertising and marking experts, artists, designers, UN communications officials.“The level of participation and the quality of the Ads Against Poverty by the European creative community, professionals and amateurs alike, was beyond our wildest expectations,” said Afsané Bassir-Pour, Director of the UN Regional Information Centre in Brussels (UNRIC), which launched the web-based campaign.She noted that most participants were hoping to send a message ahead of a meeting of world leaders in September in New York to continue pushing for progress on the MDGs. 25 August 2010A graphic designer from Iceland is the winner of a United Nations advertising contest to boost awareness in Europe of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight globally agreed anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, it was announced today. read more

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UN officials warn of escalating human rights violations across Middle East

United Nations human rights officials today voiced deep concern about the situation in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, where rights violations have escalated as governments respond to ongoing protests for greater democracy and reform with deadly crackdowns.The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said it has received reports that the Bab Amr residential district of the Syrian city of Homs was shelled on Wednesday and that many opposition leaders and activists have been across the country.Figures issued by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) indicate that between 700 and 850 people have been killed since the demonstrations began in mid-March, and that thousands more have been arrested.“We cannot verify these numbers for sure, but believe they are likely to be close to reality,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told journalists in Geneva.“These are extremely worrying reports and we urge the Government to exercise utmost restraint, cease the use of force and of mass arrests to silence opponents.”The UN Human Rights Council has ordered a fact-finding mission to Syria to assess the situation on the ground, and Mr. Colville said OHCHR was in contact with the Government to obtain their full cooperation.The mission – which will travel to Syria and neighbouring countries – will be held by Kyung-wha Kang, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, and “should be ready to deploy as soon as we are granted access.”Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has spoken by telephone with President Bashar al-Assad on several occasions during the crisis, this week urged him to cooperate with the human rights mission and with a separate planned humanitarian mission to the southern city of Deraa, where fighting has been particularly intense.The protests in Syria are part of a broader pro-democracy movement that has erupted across the Middle East and North Africa since the start of the year. Long-standing regimes in Tunisia and Egypt have been toppled and open conflict continues in Libya.Mr. Colville said today that OHCHR continues to receive disturbing reports that hundreds of people detained in connection with Bahrain’s protest movement – including medical professionals, opposition politicians and human rights defenders – are being denied their legal rights to due process.“We have worrying reports of severe torture and that, so far, four detainees have died while in custody,” he said.“We reiterate our call for prompt, impartial and transparent investigations into these allegations of grave human rights violations. We are deeply concerned about the reported scale of arbitrary detention and of the trials of civilians before military courts leading to life imprisonment and death sentences, which we have already said is illegal.”Mr. Colville said reports indicated that peaceful demonstrations may take place today in Bahrain and he urged security forces not to use force against the protesters.OHCHR also spoke out about reports of rights violations and continued killings in Yemen, the poorest country in the region.Mr. Colville said the situation was difficult to assess because of a lack of access to the country and to affected areas in particular.The Yemeni Government has informed the office that its staff can visit at the end of next month, but Mr. Colville stressed that “we stand ready to deploy urgently so that our human rights officers can independently assess the situation.” 13 May 2011The United Nations human rights office voices deep concern about the situation in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, where violations are on the rise as governments crack down against protest movements. read more

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President of UNbacked war crimes court in Sierra Leone reelected

The selection as appeals court presiding judge, voted last month in a plenary session of judges in The Hague, automatically makes him the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).Justice Emmanuel Ayoola of Nigeria has also been re-elected as Vice-President, according to a press release issued today by the court from Freetown, the Sierra Leonean capital.The Special Court is an independent tribunal established jointly by Sierra Leone’s Government and the UN in 2002. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed in Sierra Leone after 30 November 1996.The trials of three former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), two members of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) and three former leaders of the Revolutionary United Front have been completed, including appeals.The trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, which is taking place in The Hague, is currently in the defence phase. 9 June 2011Justice Jon M. Kamanda of Sierra Leone has been re-elected unanimously to a third term as Presiding Judge of the Appeals Chamber of the United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal set up to deal with crimes committed during the civil war in that West African nation. read more

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Tensions high after days of fighting in Sudanese state – UN

Gunfire was still being heard and looting was going on in Kadugli, the Southern Kordofan capital, from where large numbers of residents have fled, according to an update by the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).It remains unclear how many civilians have been displaced by the violence, but up to 3,000 people have gathered near the UNMIS compound in Kadugli town. The mission had set aside safe areas for nearly 1,500 people, and a humanitarian assessment was due to take place today to determine the needs of those displaced.UN peacekeepers are patrolling Kadugli and UNMIS has reinforced its military presence with a company of Bangladeshi troops from Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan.The UN World Food Programme (WFP), meanwhile, said that it has provided food aid to an estimated 86,300 people displaced by the recent military confrontation in the disputed area of Abyei.In addition WFP distributed rations of the ready-to-use therapeutic food, known as PlumpyDoz, to prevent malnutrition among some 1,910 displaced children under the age of two.“WFP is concerned with the disruption of livelihoods in the Abyei area. This is the height of the planting season and if people cannot plant, they will need food assistance for a prolonged period of time,” said Amor Almagro, a WFP spokesperson in Sudan. 9 June 2011The situation in the Sudanese state of Southern Kordofan remained tense today after several days of fighting between the Sudanese army and the forces of the southern region that is due to become independent next month, the United Nations mission there reported. read more

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TSX advances amid strong US housing data weak Chinese profit outlook

The Toronto stock market advanced Wednesday as commodity prices moved higher amid further evidence of a slow housing recovery in the U.S.Traders also looked to a report of a deteriorating business climate in China, a second day of testimony before Congress by U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and the release of the central bank’s so-called Beige Book, its regional study of economic conditions.The S&P/TSX composite index edged up 26.98 points to 11,598.17 while the TSX Venture Exchange added 3.34 points to 1,180.09.The Canadian dollar was up 0.02 of a cent at 98.78 cents US ahead of the release of the Bank of Canada’s Monetary Policy Report and a news conference by bank governor Mark Carney.The bank on Tuesday opted to leave interest rates unchanged at one per cent while again indicating that rates will rise in the future. It followed that up with a policy report that says the Canadian economic recovery is struggling to retain forward momentum.U.S. markets turned higher as American builders broke ground on the most new homes and apartments in nearly four years last month.The U.S. Commerce Department says that housing starts rose 6.9 per cent in June from May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000, which beat expectations of 743,000. At the same time, the number of permits to build homes, a sign of future construction, fell 3.7 per cent to 755,000. But that’s down from May’s three-and-a-half-year high.The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 20.17 points to 12,825.71. The Nasdaq composite index was ahead 20.85 points to 2,930.89 and the S&P 500 index was up 3.6 points to 1,367.27.At the same time, some of China’s biggest corporations are warning of profit declines nearing 80 per cent.On Wednesday, Air China Ltd., one of three huge, government-owned airlines, warned that profit for the first half of the year will fall by at least half from a year earlier. State-owned ZTE Corp., one of the world’s biggest producers of telecommunications equipment, is projecting a decline of up to 80 per cent.Chinese leaders are trying to pull China out of its deepest slowdown since the 2008 crisis. Forecasters say the slowdown might have bottomed out after growth fell to a three-year low of 7.6 per cent in the second quarterThe TSX energy sector was up about 0.5 per cent as the August crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 17 cents to US$89.39 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) climbed 85 cents to $28.16.The base metals group was also ahead about 0.5 per cent as copper prices gained a penny to US$3.46 a pound. Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) improved by 20 cents to $8.48.Tech stocks also advanced as Research In Motion Ltd. (TSX:RIM) was ahead nine cents to $7.11 and CGI Group (TSX:GIB.A) climbed 21 cents to $23.87.Financials were also positive as Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) rose 32 cents to $52.37.The consumer staples sector was the leading percentage gainer, up 0.65 per cent as convenience store chain Alimentation Couche Tard (TSX:ATD.B) gained $1.07 to $48.99.The gold sector was the weakest component, down 1.25 per cent as gold faded $11.40 to US$1,578.10 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) gave back 87 cents to $33.23.On the earnings front, fertilizer company Agrium Inc. (TSX:AGU) said that it is expecting record earnings for the second quarter. The Calgary-based firm said earnings will be in the range of $5.40 to $5.50 diluted earnings per share while first half earnings will come in at a range of $6.72 to $6.82 per share. Agrium said the revised estimates are about 15 per cent higher than previously announced. Its stock moved up $2.70 to $96.61.Shares in Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, shook off early weakness to move up 58 cents to $25.96 after it said Tuesday after the close that the weak global economy is slowing its growth, and revenue for the current quarter is likely to come in below forecasts. Intel’s second-quarter net income was US$2.83 billion, or 54 cents per share, down 4.3 per cent from a year earlier, as operating expenses rose faster than revenue. Net income beat forecasts by two cents.There was further good news from the American financial sector Wednesday. Bank of America swung to a profit of US$2.1 billion or 19 cents a share in the second quarter, much better than a year ago when the bank reported it lost $9.1 billion when it paid $8.5 billion to settle claims from investors who had bought its mortgages or mortgage-backed bonds. The investors said they had been misled about the mortgages’ quality. Earnings beat analyst estimates of 16 cents a share but its stock dipped 11 cents to US$7.81.European bourses were positive with London’s FTSE 100 index up 0.52 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX gained 0.8 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 ran up 1.41 per cent.Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.1 per cent, South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1.5 per cent, Japan’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.3 per cent while China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4 per cent.Elsewhere in corporate news, the Holloway Lodging investment trust (TSX:HLR.UN) says it’s not going to accept any of the three strategic deals offered to it over recent months. The Halifax-based hotel operator says its board has determined that none of the offers is satisfactory. It says, however, it would be open to a strategic deal that maximizes Holloway’s value for its unitholders. Its units fell 44 cents to $3.56. read more

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Canadian Auto Workers CEP join forces to create Canadian megaunion

A second union approved plans to create Canada’s biggest private sector union in a vote on Monday, promising to revitalize the labor movement with a merger between the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW).Delegates at a CEP convention in Quebec City approved a 45-page blueprint for a new union that will boast more than 300,000 members, leaving representatives of the two unions with the task of naming the new union and determining how it will work.CAW members approved the outline plan in August.We have a lot of work ahead of us to bring our two organizations together and to consummate this marriage of two hell raisers made in heaven“We have a lot of work ahead of us to bring our two organizations together and to consummate this marriage of two hell raisers made in heaven,” CAW secretary-treasurer Peter Kennedy told a news conference announcing the vote.[np-related]Leaders of both unions have pitched the merger as a way to shore up the labor movement in the face of growing pressure for concessions and the increasing willingness of governments to intervene in labor disputes, often to the benefit of management.Organizers promise to increase the size of the union, which will accept unemployed and retired workers and expects to merge with other smaller unions in Canada in the future.“We have to be relevant and this brings us right down to the grass roots of every community,” CEP national president Dave Coles told the news conference.“There are unions right across this country that are following this…I can also say that the world’s watching…”MORE WORK AHEADBut the current proposal leaves a number of potentially divisive issues open, including who will lead the new organization, what it will be called, and which political party it will support.The CEP is closely tied to Canada’s opposition New Democrats, while the CAW takes a more pragmatic approach, supporting Liberal candidates where appropriate.The vote gives a team of union officials the go-ahead to hammer out details like these, ahead of a joint founding convention next year where members will formally approve a final plan.Coles and CAW national president Ken Lewenza would not say whether they will seek leadership of the new mega-union.The new union will span growing resource sectors such as Alberta’s oil sands, where the CEP is active, as well as central Canada’s ailing manufacturing economy.It will devote about 10% of its estimated $100-million annual revenue to organizing, twice the combined spend of the two unions.The CAW, formed in 1985 when Canadian car workers broke away from the U.S.-based United Auto Workers, wrapped up contract talks with Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co and Fiat SpA’s Chrysler Group LLC in September.But mergers and layoffs have changed the face of the union, and only about 20% of its members are now auto workers. Its top leadership, however, is still largely drawn from members who work for the Detroit automakers.The recession has hit industrial unions hard, and CAW membership – now 195,000 – is down 26% since 2005, according to documents released at its August convention.CEP’s membership has fallen more than 20% over five years, to about 110,000, according to government data.Canadian private and public sector unions have also come under pressure as the government several times pushed through back-to-work legislation, arguing that work stoppages could be damaging to an economy that only recently came out of recession.But Canadian private sector workers are still more than twice as likely to belong to a union than their U.S. counterparts, official statistics show.CAW members work at a number of major Canadian companies, including Air Canada Inc, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd and Canadian National Railway Co.CEP, itself the product of a series of mergers, organizes in the news media, natural resources companies, and in Western Canada’s expanding oil sands, It also represents workers at telecom giant BCE Inc among many other companies.© Thomson Reuters 2012 read more

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Weak global conditions to keep Canada in slow lane until 2013 OECD

The risk of a new major (global) contraction cannot be ruled outOTTAWA — With global conditions weakening, Canada’s economy will remain in the slow growth lane until the middle of next year, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts in a new forecast.The OECD projects Canada’s economy will grow by 1.5% in the final three months of this year, and advance only 1.8% in 2013.Next year’s projection is half a point below the Bank of Canada’s official forecast, although the two institutions agree that 2014 will see an improvement to 2.4% growth.The Bank of Canada may need to raise its benchmark lending rate by the second half of next year to avoid inflation, the OECD said.While growth will remain “moderate” until the middle of 2013, “economic slack is not large,” the OECD said.Canadian household debt has surged to a record amid low interest rates, prompting policy makers to warn of risks to the country’s financial system.The OECD said the tightening of mortgage-insurance rules by the government in June will cool house prices. “If housing- market imbalances worsen, the government should respond with further macro-prudential measures,” the OECD said, referring to regulatory steps rather than monetary action.Overall, the Paris-based organization’s analysis mirrors that of the Canadian central bank and that of many private sector economists in most respects.The OECD blames weak export markets abroad, government austerity and high household indebtedness at home as the key reasons for the lacklustre projections.But its outlook for Canada is still far stronger than for Europe, which is expected to remain in recession through most of 2013.And Canada’s growth rates are stronger than the average in the 34 nations of the OECD, which includes most of the industrialized world.While the international organization does not see the Canadian economy slumping, it cautions that policy-makers should be prepared for shocks.“Federal and provincial budget consolidation is needed and welcome, but if new shocks were to weaken underlying growth materially, the pace of debt reduction should be slowed,” the report states.The report’s outlook for the world is decidedly bleaker than for Canada, pointing out that after five years of crisis, the global economy is again weakening, and risks proliferate.“The risk of a new major contraction cannot be ruled out,” said Pier Carlo Padoan, the OECD’s chief economist, citing the ongoing recession in the euro area, a below-par economy in the U.S., and a slowdown in many emerging markets.Referring to the problems in Europe, he said it is “not difficult to imagine a situation in which something goes wrong.”If that happened, Canada would be impacted through the trade, financial market and confidence channels, the OECD said, but noted that the country is much more dependent on the U.S., whose economy is better balanced.In fact, the OECD anticipates the U.S. will speed up faster than Canada’s next year at 2% and in 2014, at 2.8% growth.Because the U.S. is starting from further behind, Canada will still maintain an advantage in the recovery over its southern neighbour, however. For instance, the organization projects Canada’s unemployment rate will fall below 7% by 2014, while in the U.S., it is expected to remain close to 8%.With files from Bloomberg read more

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